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Breaking News: Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige Will Ease on Down the Road in NBC's THE WIZ LIVE!

BroadwayWorld has confirmed that Grammy and Golden Globe-winner Queen Latifah and nine-time Grammy-winner Mary J. Blige have joined the cast of NBC's highly-anticipated THE WIZ LIVE! Latifah will play the Wiz, and Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West. Producer Craig Zadan confirmed the casting on Twitter:

NBC's upcoming holiday special THE WIZ LIVE! will air Thursday, Dec. 3. Latifah is no stranger to musicals on screens large and small. She starred as "Mama" Morton and Motormouth Maybelle in the big screen versions of CHICAGO and HAIRSPRAY respectively, both producedBreaking News: Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige Will Ease on Down the Road in NBC's THE WIZ LIVE! by Zadan and Neil Meron, who are at the helm of THE WIZ LIVE! Recently, Latifah also starred as Blues singer Bessie Smith in HBO's BESSIE.

Blige has also displayed her emmense talents on screen before, playing Justice Charlier in the ROCK OF AGES adaptation and Platinum Fro in BLACK NATIVITY. Blige also appeared on the first season of FOX's hit musical television series EMPIRE.

The superstar pair join original stage star Stephanie Mills, who was previously announced to be taking on the role of Auntie Em.

"We are so happy reuniting with Latifah," said Zadan and Meron, who also produced NBC's THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE! and PETER PAN LIVE! "We've been friends for a long time and we've had quite a lot of success together. To see her play the iconic role of the Wiz and make it her own is going to be one of the joys of producing this event."

Queen Latifah stars as the Wiz, the mysterious and powerful wizard who holds the keys to the Emerald City, but whose metamorphosis from ordinary to extraordinary is itself a hoax. She rose to her lofty position after being transported by accident to Oz in a hot air balloon during a snowstorm.

Mary J. Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, who holds sway over the Winkies and the Winged Monkeys that do her bidding. She captures Dorothy and her friends to avenge the unintentional murder of her evil sister, Evvamean, and to get back the powerful silver slippers given to Dorothy by the Good Witch of the North.

"I can't wait to watch Mary bring the badness that is Evillene," director Kenny Leon added. "Her talent range is off the charts and I know audiences won't be able to take their eyes off her."

"The Wiz Live!" is adapted from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum, with a book by William F. Brown, and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. The production opened on Broadway in 1975 at the Majestic Theatre, starring Mills. It won seven Tonys, including best musical. As previously announced, Mills is set to return to the show on NBC, this time in the role of 'Auntie Em'.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("The Sound of Music Live!," "Peter Pan Live!") serve as executive producers. Tony winner Kenny Leon will direct with Harvey Fierstein providing new written material. Fatima Robinson serves as choreographer. "The Wiz Live!" is produced by Universal Television in association with Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical.

"The Wiz" tells the classic story hundreds of millions of people have read in the L. Frank Baum books and then saw in the much-beloved 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz," but retold in an African-American/multicultural context. Dorothy, a young woman from Kansas, is swept up in a tornado and relocated to a fantasy world that is inhabited by munchkins, good and bad witches, and, of course, flying monkeys. She eventually takes a path down a yellow brick road to find a wizard who can help her go home and along the way meets a scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion, who all learn to help one another.

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